MORE PARKS, POOLS & SCHOOLS

One indoor leisure center is not enough.

Overcrowding schools is not the answer.

We need better planning. 

  1. A city of almost 100,000 people should have options for indoor swimming. When compared to other municipalities, for example, Chilliwack (a population of 80, 000), they have two indoor pools AND a YMCA which itself has an aquatic center.
  2. Rome wasn’t built in a day, a leisure center won’t be built in a year. It will take time to plan properly so as not to burden the already highly taxed residents of this city. 
  3. BUT with courage, determination, and will to get something great done, we can do this together! And I believe we can. 

When the leisure center first opened it was state of the art. Home to 30, 000 people, Maple Ridge could boast that their Rec Center was unmatched. Fast forward 40 years, we had two delays in the 2020 reopening, further unscheduled shutdowns, this year's undetermined closures, what’s next?

Our schools are increasingly becoming overcrowded. 

  1. We need infrastructure to handle the homes we’re building. Young families are unprecedentedly moving to Maple Ridge. This gives us a wonderful opportunity to build new schools like the beautiful Cesqunela elementary. 
  2. Many schools in our district are at or near capacity. When planning to build homes for the young families moving here, we must also plan for the schools the children will attend, the streets and sidewalks they will travel, and the parks at which they will play. Let’s stop selling ourselves and our future short!
  3. Some might say it’s not a City Council issue. Council has a part to play.

Make Maple Ridge Safe For Our Families

Another treatment center won’t get us there.

We are facing a provincial-wide public safety crisis with those suffering from mental health issues who are living on the streets and using drugs to cope.

We need compassion, but it is not compassion for our young families and seniors to feel unsafe when we allow people to use drugs in the middle of the streets in the middle of the day.

As a council, there are two ways forward for our city to address this problem:

  1. The CSSI Program (and the various corollary programs designed to help people get off the streets and back on their feet). 
  2. Lock out crime through environmental design.

The Community Social Safety Initiative (CSSI) Program has seen initial success in its implementation. 

In his presentation to council, Mr. Cowles noted, “In 2022 CSOs dealt with 165 homeless encampment files, removed 195 truckloads of garbage from public spaces and achieved a 93% file closure rate within 48 hours.” 

These are fantastic numbers. We can not, however, sit by, and rest on our laurels. We need to continue to be diligent. I will work with council to ensure the success of this program for our seniors, young families, and local businesses. 

Lock out Crime Through Environmental Design

Preventing Crime Through Environmental Design. Many jurisdictions are using building designs, whether parks, buildings, homes, all are designed to contribute to safer communities. 

The four principles of design include: natural surveillance and visibility; lighting; territorial reinforcement and space delineation, and natural access control. An example of this in Maple Ridge would be the newly renovated Ridge Church. The design has less stairwells, less hidden corners, increased well light areas, and overall more openness. 

I would work with council to require new development to these principles of environmental design and encourage the renovation of existing development to conform to them as well. Both public and private developments would be included, as well as those whereby the public space is impacted, such as parks and other open spaces. 

As it stands, the city has begun on this path in conjunction with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Association, I will work with council to continue its journey and ensure it's much needed success.

Finally, as mentioned, many of the homeless suffer with mental health disorders and have turned to illicit drugs to cope. Moreover, the homeless population has now taken up residence by CP Rail on the Haney bypass (and various other nearby areas).

The problem will not be resolved with more treatment centres. That’s why I will advocate for the reopening of Riverview Hospital. Done properly, they will have the resources to get the long-term help they need.


Support For Our Change To Small Businesses

Local government needs to be a help and not a hindrance to the Local Business Community.

Covid decimated small businesses nationwide. And in Maple Ridge–Maple Ridge was not immune.

And we saw the biggest transfer of wealth during the lockdowns, whereby the rich got richer and the poor got poorer….and it was the middle & working class. Who took the biggest brunt of the bureaucratic policies that led to this shift in wealth disparity.

My wife and her business partner, who own a cleaning company, had to shut down their business for a number of months. We too felt the pain.

Now, thankfully, on a positive note, things are opening back up, life is getting back to normal. As a result

 of things getting back to normal, we need to court and help resurrect small businesses nationwide, but specifically here in Maple Ridge. 

In 2019 Business license renewals were due in January, and returns show slow growth – from 4,533 in 2019, to 4,563 in 2020, and 4,619 in 2021. That’s 56 new business licenses despite COVID-19.

“It’s a small number, but it’s trending in the right direction,” said Wendy Dupley, director of economic development at city hall.

While I can appreciate Dupley’s optimism, we need to improve. Our residents pay some of the highest taxes in the lower mainland. We have some good services, but with the taxes we pay, they should be even better (like having only one leisure center?!). 

We need to grow and cultivate a strong small business community here in our city. Because, as I believe, it is small business that is the economic engine that drives prosperity in any given community.


Build Homes Our Community Can Afford

Life seems to be getting more and more unaffordable...

And it is getting even more difficult for people to keep a roof over their heads. People who are looking to buy homes are seeing prices they can’t afford. Renters are finding it difficult to find places to rent without getting into renting wars. 

And so, ultimately, the best way we will be able to deal with this looming crisis boils down to managing our housing supply.

David Eby, the BC Attorney General, who is also responsible for housing, has effectively said, Supply is one of the biggest contributing factors that is making it difficult for people to put a roof over their heads. 

To deal with this looming crisis, we will first need to increase our housing stock, but we must do so in a smart and manageable way.

With proper leadership, we will have a real opportunity to make Maple Ridge better. And with this leadership, we will build better recreation centers, have better transportation, and help our businesses.

But we need to manage our housing stock well. Which means, as we grow, we work to maintain the characteristic, charm, and form for which Maple Ridge has come to be known. Namely, It’s outdoors: the trees, forests, lakes, and rivers…that natural beauty that Maple Ridge has to offer, must be maintained while we seek wisely to increase our housing supply.

Secondly, we need to consider cutting unnecessary government fees when it comes to the building process. Some studies show upwards of 25% of the cost of building a home in Metro Vancouver is government related.

I will do my best to lower these costs. Because for EVERY fee and every delay in the building process, it only adds to the cost of a new or renovated home.

And if we’re going to help the middle & working class keep a roof over their heads it’s going to require a little faith BUT also BOLD ACTION!


MORE PARKS, POOLS & SCHOOLS

One indoor leisure center is not enough.

Overcrowding schools is not the answer.

We need better planning. 

  1. A city of almost 100,000 people should have options for indoor swimming. When compared to other municipalities, for example, Chilliwack (a population of 80, 000), they have two indoor pools AND a YMCA which itself has an aquatic center.
  2. Rome wasn’t built in a day, a leisure center won’t be built in a year. It will take time to plan properly so as not to burden the already highly taxed residents of this city. 
  3. BUT with courage, determination, and will to get something great done, we can do this together! And I believe we can. 

When the leisure center first opened it was state of the art. Home to 30, 000 people, Maple Ridge could boast that their Rec Center was unmatched. Fast forward 40 years, we had two delays in the 2020 reopening, further unscheduled shutdowns, this year's undetermined closures, what’s next?

Image
Photo by Alex Zakharchenko

Our schools are increasingly becoming overcrowded. 

  1. We need infrastructure to handle the homes we’re building. Young families are unprecedentedly moving to Maple Ridge. This gives us a wonderful opportunity to build new schools like the beautiful Cesqunela elementary. 
  2. Many schools in our district are at or near capacity. When planning to build homes for the young families moving here, we must also plan for the schools the children will attend, the streets and sidewalks they will travel, and the parks at which they will play. Let’s stop selling ourselves and our future short!
  3. Some might say it’s not a City Council issue. Council has a part to play.

Make Maple Ridge Safe For Our Families

Another treatment center won’t get us there.
Image
Photo by Teodor Drobota

We are facing a provincial-wide public safety crisis with those suffering from mental health issues who are living on the streets and using drugs to cope.

We need compassion, but it is not compassion for our young families and seniors to feel unsafe when we allow people to use drugs in the middle of the streets in the middle of the day.

As a council, there are two ways forward for our city to address this problem:

  1. The CSSI Program (and the various corollary programs designed to help people get off the streets and back on their feet). 
  2. Lock out crime through environmental design.

The Community Social Safety Initiative (CSSI) Program has seen initial success in its implementation. 

In his presentation to council, Mr. Cowles noted, “In 2022 CSOs dealt with 165 homeless encampment files, removed 195 truckloads of garbage from public spaces and achieved a 93% file closure rate within 48 hours.” 

These are fantastic numbers. We can not, however, sit by, and rest on our laurels. We need to continue to be diligent. I will work with council to ensure the success of this program for our seniors, young families, and local businesses. 

Lock out Crime Through Environmental Design

Preventing Crime Through Environmental Design. Many jurisdictions are using building designs, whether parks, buildings, homes, all are designed to contribute to safer communities. 

The four principles of design include: natural surveillance and visibility; lighting; territorial reinforcement and space delineation, and natural access control. An example of this in Maple Ridge would be the newly renovated Ridge Church. The design has less stairwells, less hidden corners, increased well light areas, and overall more openness. 

I would work with council to require new development to these principles of environmental design and encourage the renovation of existing development to conform to them as well. Both public and private developments would be included, as well as those whereby the public space is impacted, such as parks and other open spaces. 

As it stands, the city has begun on this path in conjunction with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Association, I will work with council to continue its journey and ensure it's much needed success.

Finally, as mentioned, many of the homeless suffer with mental health disorders and have turned to illicit drugs to cope. Moreover, the homeless population has now taken up residence by CP Rail on the Haney bypass (and various other nearby areas).

The problem will not be resolved with more treatment centres. That’s why I will advocate for the reopening of Riverview Hospital. Done properly, they will have the resources to get the long-term help they need.


Support For Our Change To Small Businesses

Local government needs to be a help and not a hindrance to the Local Business Community.

Covid decimated small businesses nationwide. And in Maple Ridge–Maple Ridge was not immune.

And we saw the biggest transfer of wealth during the lockdowns, whereby the rich got richer and the poor got poorer….and it was the middle & working class who took the biggest brunt of the bureaucratic policies that led to this shift in wealth disparity.

My wife and her business partner, who own a cleaning company, had to shut down their work for a number of months. We too felt the pain.

Now, thankfully, on a positive note, things are opening back up, life is getting back to normal. As a result of things getting back to normal, we need to court and help resurrect small businesses nationwide, but specifically here in Maple Ridge. 

In 2019  Business license renewals were due in January, and returns show slow growth – from 4,533 in 2019, to 4,563 in 2020, and 4,619 in 2021. That’s 56 new business licenses despite COVID-19.

Image
Photo by Tim Mossholder

“It’s a small number, but it’s trending in the right direction,” said Wendy Dupley, director of economic development at city hall.

While I can appreciate Dupley’s optimism, we need to improve. Our residents pay some of the highest taxes in the lower mainland. We have some good services, but with the taxes we pay, they should be even better (like having only one leisure center?!). 

We need to grow and cultivate a strong small business community here in our city. Because, as I believe, it is small business that is the economic engine that drives prosperity in any given community.


Build Homes Our Community Can Afford

Life seems to be getting more and more unaffordable...

And it is getting even more difficult for people to keep a roof over their heads. People who are looking to buy homes are seeing prices they can’t afford. Renters are finding it difficult to find places to rent without getting into renting wars. 

And so, ultimately, the best way we will be able to deal with this looming crisis boils down to managing our housing supply.

David Eby, the BC Attorney General, who is also responsible for housing, has effectively said, Supply is one of the biggest contributing factors that is making it difficult for people to put a roof over their heads. 

To deal with this looming crisis, we will first need to increase our housing stock, but we must do so in a smart and manageable way.

With proper leadership, we will have a real opportunity to make Maple Ridge better. And with this leadership, we will build better recreation centers, have better transportation, and help our businesses.

But we need to manage our housing stock well. Which means, as we grow, we work to maintain the characteristic, charm, and form for which Maple Ridge has come to be known. Namely, It’s outdoors: the trees, forests, lakes, and rivers…that natural beauty that Maple Ridge has to offer, must be maintained while we seek wisely to increase our housing supply.

Image
Photo by Jens Behrmann

Secondly, we need to consider cutting unnecessary government fees when it comes to the building process. Some studies show upwards of 25% of the cost of building a home in Metro Vancouver is government related.

I will do my best to lower these costs. Because for EVERY fee and every delay in the building process, it only adds to the cost of a new or renovated home.

And if we’re going to help the middle & working class keep a roof over their heads it’s going to require a little faith BUT also BOLD ACTION!